As part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to develop future-facing talent equipped with the skills and mentalities required to tackle the technological advances shaping the world, PHD Malaysia has conducted a study on students’ aspirations. The survey, conducted on 370 Form Five students and undergraduates in the country, provides insights on the prevailing values of students across different demographics regarding their careers and the future.

“While being accepted into university was an achievement 20 years ago, it is now a natural expectation, as higher education becomes more prevalent and accessible,” commented Eileen Ooi, Head of PHD Malaysia. “It is a very competitive market out there, as almost everyone now has a scroll in their hands. However, as we endeavour to build a diversified workforce that will ultimately shape the future of our industry, we look beyond degrees to see what are the challenger skills required to meet our clients’ needs tomorrow. Based on the results of our study, I call on the broader business community to create internships and openings for these emerging skillsets and new disciplines, ultimately allowing us to future-proof our organizations in the process.”

In light of increasing unemployment rates among graduates, PHD’s study reveals that over one-third of students view higher job placement rates and industry tie-ups as top indicators of the quality of an educational institution. This is especially high among Chinese students, where 54% chose these criteria above international recognition, campus facility and innovation. While 80% of students believe that a degree is a necessity, they also view a postgraduate degree as an opportunity to enhance their earning potential. Malay students gravitate towards obtaining a higher degree upon graduation over working experience, while the Chinese have a split opinion over this.

However, academic achievement is not all that students are looking for. Respondents also recognise communication (36%), creative thinking (31%), as well as critical and analytic thinking (21%), as important soft skills to stay competitive in today’s job market.

“Like many corporations, we are struggling to find talents that are all-rounders,” added Ooi. “There is a need for us, as a member of the society in which we operate in, to work with education sectors to develop a systematic approach in cultivating the soft and industry skillsets required for today’s economy.”

PHD had been at the forefront of the discussion on talent development and a pioneer in providing industry partnerships to top private educational groups. As such, the media network shares industry knowledge, provides internship opportunities and moulds talents through bespoke training programs, geared towards the technological breakthroughs and innovation that are reshaping the industry.